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Poly = many; Mer = unit -> Polymer = many units.

A polymer has a repeating structure, usually based on a carbon backbone. The repeating structure results in large chainlike molecules.

polymer chains
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The atoms in red show one repeating unit, or monomer, of this polymer. The atoms in blue highlight the backbone of the polymer.
This is the standard notation used to represent a polymer: it shows a repeating unit or monomer. n is the number of repeating units per polymer chain.

nylon synthesis
Nylon 6-10 polymer is formed by the condensation of hexamethylenediamine and sebacoyl chloride at the oil/water interface. 


Polymers are useful because they are lightweight, are corrosion resistant, are easy to process at low temperatures, and are generally inexpensive.

Some important characteristics of polymers include their size (or molecular weight), softening and melting points, crystallinity, and structure. The mechanical properties of polymers generally include low strength and high toughness. Their strength is often improved using reinforced composite structures.

Polymers are a very important industry. Four specific polymers dominate the market because of their low cost and ability to be produced in high volume.